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He hoped that when his father should This was Balser's chance for life, so go home to dinner and find him still he flung the fish to the bear, and ran absent, he would come up the river in for the bank with a speed worthy of search of him, and frighten away the
the cause. bear. Hardly had this hope sprung up
When he reached the bank his selfin his mind, when it seemed that the confidence returned, and he remembered same thought had also occurred to the all the things he had said he would do bear, for he began to move down toward if he should meet a bear. the shore end of the log upon which The bear had caught the fish, and Balser was standing.
again had climbed upon the log, where Slowly came the bear until he reached he was deliberately devouring them. the end of the log, which for a moment This was Little Balser's chance for he examined suspiciously, and then, to death— to the bear. Quickly snatching Balser's great alarm, cautiously stepped up the gun, he rested it in the fork of a out upon it and began to walk toward small tree near by, took deliberate aim him.
at the bear, which was not five yards Balser thought of the folks at home, away, and shot him through the heart. and, above all, of his baby sister; and The bear dropped into the water dead, when he felt that he should never see and floated downstream a little way, them again, and that they would in all where he lodged at a ripple a short probability never know of his fate, he distance below. began to grow heavy-hearted and was Balser, after he had killed the bear, almost paralyzed with fear.
became more frightened than he had On came the bear, putting one great been at any time during the adventure, paw in front of the other, and watching and ran home screaming. That afterBalser intently with his little black eyes. noon his father went to the scene of battle His tongue hung out, and his great red and took the bear out of the water. It mouth was open to its widest, showing was very fat and large, and weighed, so the sharp, long, glittering teeth that Mr. Brent said, over six hundred pounds. would soon be feasting on a first-class Balser was firmly of the opinion that boy dinner.
he himself was also very fat and large, When the bear got within a few feet and weighed at least as much as the bear. of Balser— so close he could almost feel He was certainly entitled to feel "big"'; the animal's hot breath as it slowly for he had got himself out of an ugly approached the boy grew desperate with scrape in a brave, manly, and coolfear, and struck at the bear with the headed manner, and had achieved a viconly weapon he had - his string of fish. tory of which a man might have been
Now, bears love fish and blackberries proud. above all other food; so when Balser's The news of Balser's adventure soon string of fish struck the bear in the mouth, spread among the neighbors and he he grabbed at them, and in doing so became quite a hero; for the bear he lost his foothold on the slippery log and had killed was one of the largest that fell into the water with a great splash had ever been seen in that neighborand plunge.
hood, and, besides the gallons of rich
bear oil it yielded, there were three or was in pennies. Pennies saved one and four hundred pounds of bear meat; and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer no other food is more strengthening for and the vegetable man and the butcher winter diet.
until one's cheeks burned with the silent There was also the soft, furry skin, imputation of parsimony that such close which Balser's mother tanned, and with dealing implied. Three times Della it made a coverlid for Balser's bed, under counted it. One dollar and eightywhich he and his little brother lay many seven cents. And the next day would a cold night, cozy and “snug as a bug be Christmas. in a rug.”
There was clearly nothing to do but
flop down on the shabby little couch 385
and howl. So Della did it. Which The selection that follows may serve as an instigates the moral reflection that life
example of an effective Christmas story in is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, the latest fashion. It was not written
with sniffles predominating. especially for young people, but neither
While the mistress of the home is were many of the books that now stand on the shelf that holds their favorites. It gradually subsiding from the first stage is not only one of the great short stories,
to the second, take a look at the home. but one of the shortest of great stories. It
A furnished flat at $8.00 per week. It is quite worthy of use in company with did not exactly beggar description, but Dickens' Christmas Carol, Henry van it certainly had that word on the lookout Dyke's The Other Wise Man, and Thomas for the mendicancy squad. Nelson Page's Santa Claus's Partner, at In the vestibule below was a letter-box the Christmas season, and it has the advan
into which no letter would go, and an tages of extreme brevity, a fresh breeziness
electric button from which no mortal of style, surprise in the plot, and romantic finger could coax a ring. interest. The magi brought various gifts finger could coax a ring. Also appertainto the Child in the manger-gold, frankin- ing thereunto was a card bearing the
name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.” cense, myrrh—but only one gift, that of love. 0. Henry does not often moralize,
The “Dillingham” had been flung to but no reader ever finds fault with his the breeze during a former period of concluding paragraph. The author's real prosperity when its possessor was being name was William Sidney Porter. He was paid $30 per week. Now, when the born in Greensburg, South Carolina, in 1862, income was shrunk to $20, the letters and died in New York City, in 1910, the most of “Dillingham" looked blurred, as widely read of short-story writers. “The though they were thinking seriously of Gift of the Magi” is taken from the volume contracting to a modest and unassuming called The Four Million by special arrange
D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingment with the publishers. (Copyright.
ham Young came home and reached his Doubleday, Page & Co. New York.)
flat above he was called "Jim" and
greatly hugged by Mrs. James DillingTHE GIFT OF THE MAGI
ham Young, already introduced to you 0. HENRY
as Della. Which is all very good. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. Della finished her cry and attended That i was all. And sixty cents of it to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out | pulled out his watch every time he passed, dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence just to see him pluck at his beard from in a grey backyard. Tomorrow would
envy. be Christmas Day, and she had only So now Della's beautiful hair fell $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. about her, rippling and shining like a She had been saving every penny she cascade of brown waters. It reached could for months, with this result. below her knee and made itself almost Twenty dollars a week does n't go far. a garment for her. And then she did Expenses had been greater than she had it up again nervously and quickly. Once calculated. They always are. Only she faltered for a minute and stood still $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her while a tear or two splashed on the Jim. Many a happy hour she had worn red carpet. spent planning for something nice for On went her old brown jacket; on him. Something fine and rare and went her old brown hat. With a whirl sterling-something just a little bit of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle near to being worthy of the honor of still in her eyes, she fluttered out the being owned by Jim.
door and down the stairs to the street. There was a pier-glass between the Where she stopped the sign read: windows of the room. Perhaps you “Mme. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All have seen a pier-glass in an $8.00 flat. Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and A very thin and very agile person may, collected herself, panting. Madame, by observing his reflection in a rapid large, too white, chilly, hardly looked sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain the “Sofronie." a fairly accurate conception of his looks. “Will you buy my hair?" asked Della. Della, being slender, had mastered the art. “I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take
Suddenly she whirled from the window yer hat off and let's have a sight at the and stood before the glass. Her eyes looks of it." were shining brilliantly, but her face Down rippled the brown cascade. had lost its color within twenty seconds. “Twenty dollars," said Madame, liftRapidly she pulled down her hair and ing the mass with a practised hand. let it fall to its full length.
“Give it to me quick," said Della. Now, there were two possessions of Oh, and the next two hours tripped by the James Dillingham Youngs in which on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metthey both took a mighty pride. One aphor. She was ransacking the stores was Jim's gold watch that had been for Jim's present. his father's and his grandfather's. The She found it at last. It surely had other was Della's hair. Had the Queen been made for Jim and no one else. of Sheba lived in the flat across the There was no other like it in any of the airshaft, Della would have let her hair stores, and she had turned all of them hang out the window some day to dry inside out. It was a platinum fob chain just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels simple and chaste in design, properly and gifts. Had King Solomon been proclaiming its value by substance alone the janitor, with all his treasures piled and not by meretricious ornamentation up in the basement, Jim would have - as all good things should do. It was
even worthy of The Watch. As soon The door opened and Jim stepped as she saw it she knew that it must be in and closed it. He looked thin and Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only value — the description applied to both. twenty-two-and to be burdened with Twenty-one dollars they took from her a family! He needed a new overcoat for it, and she hurried home with the and he was without gloves. 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim stopped inside the door, as immovJim might be properly anxious about the able as a setter at the scent of quail. time in any company. Grand as the His eyes were fixed upon Della, and watch was, he sometimes looked at it there was an expression in them that on the sly on account of the old leather she could not read, and it terrified her. strap that he used in place of a chain. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor
When Della reached home her intoxi-disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the cation gave way a little to prudence and sentiments that she had been prepared reason. She got out her curling irons and for. He simply stared at her fixedly lighted the gas and went to work repair with that peculiar expression on his face. ing the ravages made by generosity added Della wriggled off the table and went to love. Which is always a tremendous for him. task, dear friends-a mammoth task. "Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look
Within forty minutes her head was at me that way. I had my hair cut off covered with tiny, close-lying curls that and sold it because I could n't have made her look wonderfully like a truant lived through Christmas without giving schoolboy. She looked at her reflection you a present. It'll grow out again in the mirror long, carefully, and critically. you won't mind, will you? I just had
“If Jim does n't kill me,” she said to to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. herself, "before he takes a second look Say 'Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's at me, he'll say I look like a Coney be happy. You don't know what a nice Island chorus girl. But what could I - what a beautiful, nice gift I've got do-oh! what could I do with a dollar for you.” and eighty-seven cents?”
"You've cut off your hair?" asked At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived the frying pan was on the back of the at that patent fact yet even after the stove hot and ready to cook the chops. hardest mental labor.
Jim was never late. Della doubled “Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. the fob chain in her hand and sat on the “Don't you like me just as well, anycorner of the table near the door that how? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?” he always entered. Then she heard his Jim looked about the room curiously. step on the stair away down on the first "You say your hair is gone?" he said, flight, and she turned white for just a with an air almost of idiocy. moment. She had a habit of saying “You need n't look for it,” said Della. little silent prayers about the simplest “It's sold, I tell you— sold and gone, everyday things, and now she whispered; too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good “Please God, make him think I am still to me, for it went for you. Maybe the pretty."
hairs of my head were numbered," she
went on with a sudden serious sweet But she hugged them to her bosom, ness, “but nobody could ever count my and at length she was able to look up love for you. Shall I put the chops on, with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My Jim?”
hair grows so fast, Jim!” Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly And then Della leaped up like a little to wake. He enfolded his Della. For singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!" ten seconds let us regard with discreet Jim had not yet seen his beauscrutiny some inconsequential object in tiful present. She held it out to him the other direction. Eight dollars a eagerly upon her open palm. The dull week or a million a year-what is the precious metal seemed to flash with difference? A mathematician or a wit a reflection of her bright and ardent would give you the wrong answer.
The spirit. magi brought valuable gifts, but that “Is n't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted was not among them. This dark asser all over town to find it. You 'll have to tion will be illuminated later on.
look at the time a hundred times a day Jim drew a package from his overcoat Give me your watch. I want to pocket and threw it upon the table. see how it looks on it."
"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down said, "about me. I don't think there's on the couch and put his hands under anything in the way of a haircut or a the back of his head and smiled. shave or a shampoo that could make "Dell," said he, "let's put our Christme like my girl any less. But if you'll mas presents away and keep 'em a while. unwrap that package you may see why They're too nice to use just at present. you had me going a while at first." I sold the watch to get the money to
White fingers and nimble tore at the buy your combs. And now suppose string and paper. And then an ecstatic you put the chops on." scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick The magi, as you know, were wise feminine change to hysterical tears and men-wonderfully wise men—who wails, necessitating the immediate employ- / brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. ment of all the comforting powers of the They invented the art of giving Christlord of the flat.
mas presents. Being wise, their gifts For there lay The Combs — the set were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearof combs, side and back, that Della ing the privilege of exchange in case of had worshipped for long in a Broadway duplication. And here I have lamely window. Beautiful combs, pure tor related to you the uneventful chronicle toise shell, with jewelled rims- just of two foolish children in a flat who most the shade to wear in the beautiful unwisely sacrificed for each other the vanished hair. They were expensive greatest treasures of their house. But combs, she knew, and her heart had in a last word to the wise of these days simply craved and yearned over them let it be said that of all who give gifts without the least hope of possession. these two were the wisest. Of all who And now, they were hers, but the give and receive gifts, such as they are tresses that should have adorned the wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. coveted adornments were gone.
They are the magi.